In a summer that turned up the heat early and threatens to get brutal before it's over, New Yorkers are fortunate to be around at a very cool time for ice cream. High-end chefs, ex-screenwriters, even refugees from media and government: A diverse crowd of ice cream impresarios is crafting superior versions in ever-multiplying flavors and styles. Here, listed alphabetically, are four New York ice creams worth a lick.
AMPLE HILLS CREAMERY
Things are heating up in Gowanus. No, the infamously polluted canal hasn't caught fire, but the neighborhood's food scene has. Starting July 15, that includes a big new outpost of one of the few New York ice cream places that make their own custard base. At Ample Hills' original Prospect Heights shop, Chowhounds' favorite flavors include Salted Crack Caramel and Espresso Cookies and Cream. To mark the opening at 305 Nevins Street, Ample Hills is introducing a new flavor, called It Came from Gowanus (the vintage movie-title echo is a nod to owner Brian Smith's past life as a horror-movie screenwriter). The new flavor combines salted dark chocolate with bits of orange brownie and hazelnut cookie, studded with white chocolate pearls.
623 Vanderbilt Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue), Brooklyn
LUCA & BOSCO FINE CRAFTED ICE CREAM
For Catherine Oddenino and Ruthie Vishlitzky, two ice cream hobbyists on the rebound from jobs where a freeze meant no more hiring, an avocation became a sweet calling. At the stand they opened last year in the Essex Street Market, Chowhounds have fallen for Oddenino and Vishlitzky's light base and delicate hand with sugar in flavors like caramelized banana, goat cheese, summery fresh corn, and berry cheesecake. The top seller is Drunk & Salty, a bourbon-fortified caramel. Beyond ice cream, there's grapefruit granita and strawberry-nectarine sorbet. Bosco is graduating from an incubator creamery in East Harlem's Hot Bread Kitchen to a larger space all its own, so look for ice cream classes and other events.
In Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street (between Rivington and Delancey streets), Manhattan
MORGENSTERN'S FINEST ICE CREAM
Maybe it's that ice cream is such a simple pleasure that the New York food world has been slow to take it on as a vehicle for experimentation and refinement, the way Humphry Slocombe's Jake Godby has done in San Francisco. Enter pastry chef Nicholas Morgenstern, who's taken on that mission at his popular new retro fountain downtown. Morgenstern, who worked at The General Greene and Goat Town, devised an eggless dairy base that's light in butterfat so it won't get in the way of the flavors. And those flavors are global and surprising, including salt-and-pepper pine nut, durian with banana, strawberry sassafras, and Sichuan pepper–chocolate.
2 Rivington Street (between Bowery and Chrystie Street), Manhattan
ODDFELLOWS ICE CREAM COMPANY
Turns out another inventor is at work (and play) at this year-old ice cream laboratory originally from Brooklyn. Starting with a base of milk and cream from Battenkill Valley Creamery, former WD-50 pastry chef Sam Mason draws on a wide range of flavors, some 120 and counting, often unexpected. At OddFellows' original Williamsburg shop and a newer outpost in the East Village, Chowhounds have been chilling with cornbread, grapefruit-jalapeño, chorizo-caramel, miso-cherry, buttermilk-blueberry-honey, and the memorable Ants on a Log, celery sorbet with raisins and peanut butter.
175 Kent Avenue (between N. Third and Fourth streets), Brooklyn, 347-599-0556;
75 E. Fourth Street (between Bowery and Second Avenue), Manhattan, 917-475-1812
Also worth a lick:
• Ice Cream, Fresh From the Cow
• Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches Are Happening in LA